Shown is a male northern cardinal. (Eric Moore/Courtesy)

A few weeks ago, I received a call from a homeowner in Forest Trails who said she wasn’t seeing any birds in her yard.  I found this statement to be interesting, knowing that Forest Trails has a lot of native habitat.  I agreed to visit her yard and take a look around. 

When I visited the property, I spent about an hour just slowly walking around — looking and listening for birds.  At the end of one hour, I had tallied a list of 18 species!  I even observed an active Cordilleran flycatcher’s nest on the covered porch.  I’ve lived in Prescott for 29 years and I’ve never had a Cordilleran flycatcher in my yard!

While I rarely watch television, I have memories of a Capitol One commercial with a catchy phrase of, “What’s in your wallet?”  This slogan came to my mind this week with a slight twist — as it relates to birding, “What’s in your yard?” The best way to see the birds in your yard is to go outside and walk around your property.  You will have a completely different experience compared to birding from inside your house. 

I had a “What’s in your yard?” birding moment this past week.  As much as I bird watch, I don’t spend a lot of time enjoying the birds in my yard, as I’m rarely home during the day.  However, on my day off this past week, I spent hours doing yard work, and I had a delightful discovery.

As one point, as I rounded the corner of the house, I gazed over in the direction of my bird feeding area and saw a northern cardinal sitting on my platform feeder!  This was quite surprising!  We have lived in this home for 15 years, and I have never had a cardinal on my feeders.  I went into the house to grab my binoculars, but when I got back outside, it had flown away.

However, it wasn’t gone for long.  It came back several times that afternoon.  I got good looks at it with binoculars, and determined it was a juvenile male.  It was really scruffy looking, and the coloration was mostly brown with some blotches of red coloring starting to come in here and there.

It is interesting to think about what bird species might be in my yard when I’m not there to see them. It seems that so many of my bird sightings have been chance encounters.  For example, a couple of months ago, I saw an acorn woodpecker in my yard for the first time. I hadn’t been outside for a minute when I saw it, and I’ve never seen it again. 

It would be interesting to have a webcam on my feeders so I could live stream the action to the store. That way, I could see what is happening in my bird feeding area when I am at work. If that were the case, however, I may not get very much done at work!   

This year — more than any other year — I have received a lot of reports of cardinal sightings in the Prescott area.  I have to believe cardinals are expanding their range, and are becoming more common here.  To this end, I recently (before I saw the cardinal in my yard) created a new custom seed blend called ‘Jay’s Cardinal Blend’ that we now sell in our store.

If you are seeing cardinals in your yard, I invite you to come by the store and put a pin on a map of where you live so that we may get a better idea where cardinals are being seen in this area. 

Until next week, Happy Birding!

Eric Moore is the owner of Jay’s Bird Barn, with two locations in northern Arizona — Prescott and Flagstaff. Eric has been an avid birder for more than 50 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email him at